Joe von Fischer Professor

Office: Biology 330

Phone: (970) 491-2679

Curriculum Vitae:

Google Scholar:


  • B.A., Biology, Augustana College (SD)
  • Ph.D., Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University
  • NOAA Climate & Global Change Postdoctoral Scholar, Dept. of Geosciences, Princeton University


Joe von Fischer is a professor in the Department of Biology who studies the human and natural forces that give the atmosphere its greenhouse gas composition.  One major lobe of that work asks how much methane is being emitted by cities, and what can be done to reduce those emissions.  This work bridges across companies that manage greenhouse gases (e.g., natural gas distribution and leak detection companies), environmental groups (e.g., Environmental Defense Fund), and policy groups (e.g., EPA, DOT/PHMSA, California and Colorado agencies).  He is a proponent of transdisciplinary research that brings together expertise in social, technological and environmental systems to address issues in sustainability, like climate change.  In addressing these issues of sustainability, Joe also seeks to restore social justice.

In addition, Joe studies the soil microbial processes that metabolize carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane, seeking new insights into the greenhouse gas emissions by ecosystems ranging from tropical forests in Panama to the Arctic tundra in Alaska.

Prospective graduate students, post docs, technicians, or other research partners are invited to be in touch, especially those interested in managing greenhouse gas emissions through a transdisciplinary approach.  Disciplinary expertise can include technological (measurement, management, and engineering of greenhouse gas emitting systems), social (cultural, behavioral, economic, justice), environmental (ecosystem ecology, urban ecology, micrometerology), or data science (statistics, geospatial analyses, programming in Python).


  • An approach for calibrating laser-based N2O isotopic analyzers for soil biogeochemistry researchEmily R. Stuchiner, Zach Dennis Weller, Joe Charles von Fischer Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 3, 2021.
  • A national estimate of methane leakage from pipeline mains in natural gas local distribution systemsZach Dennis Weller, Steven P. Hamburg, Joe Charles von Fischer Environmental Science & Technology, 14, 2020.
  • Methane mapping, emission quantification, and attribution in two European cities: Utrecht (NL) and Hamburg (DE)Hossein Maazallahi, Julianne M. Fernandez, Malika Menoud, Daniel Zavala-Araiza, Zach Dennis Weller, Stefan Schwietzke, Joe Charles von Fischer, Hugo Denier van der Gon, R\"ockmann, Thomas Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 23, 2020.
  • An open source algorithm to detect natural gas leaks from mobile methane survey dataZach Dennis Weller, Duck Keun Yang, Joe Charles von Fischer PLOS ONE, 2, 2019.
  • Estimation of methane emissions from the US ammonia fertilizer industry using a mobile sensing approachXiaochi Zhou, Fletcher H. Passow, Joseph Rudek, Joe Charles von Fischer, Steven P. Hamburg, John D. Albertson ELEMENTA-SCIENCE OF THE ANTHROPOCENE, 2019.
  • Nitrogen Dynamics in an Established Alfalfa Field under Low Biochar Application RatesKatherine S. Rocci, Steven John Fonte, Joseph C. von Fischer, M Francesca Cotrufo Soil Systems, 4, 2019.
  • Rapid nitrogen fixation by canopy microbiome in tropical forest determined by both phosphorus and molybdenumDaniel E. Stanton, Sarah A. Batterman, Joe Charles von Fischer, Lars O. Hedin ECOLOGY, 9, 2019.
  • A meta-analysis of temperature sensitivity as a microbial traitCharlotte Jean Alster, Zach Dennis Weller, von Fischer, Joseph C. GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY, 9, 2018.
  • Impacts of Moisture, Soil Respiration, and Agricultural Practices on Methanogenesis in Upland Soils as Measured with Stable Isotope Pool DilutionPaul Brewer, Francisco Calderon, Merle F. Vigil, Joe Charles von Fischer Soil Biology & Biochemistry , 2018.
  • Vehicle-Based Methane Surveys for Finding Natural Gas Leaks and Estimating Their Size: Validation and UncertaintyZach Dennis Weller, Joseph R. Roscioli, W. Conner Daube, Brian K. Lamb, Thomas W. Ferrara, Paul Brewer, von Fischer, Joseph C. ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY, 20, 2018.
  • A calibration capture--recapture model for inferring natural gas leak population characteristics using data from Google Street View carsZach Dennis Weller, Jennifer A. Hoeting, Joe Charles von Fischer Environmetrics, 7, 2018.
  • Mountain Peatlands Range from CO2 Sinks at High Elevations to Sources at Low Elevations: Implications for a Changing ClimateDavid J. Millar, David Jonathan Cooper, Kathleen A. Dwire, Robert M. Hubbard, Joe Charles von Fischer ECOSYSTEMS, 2, 2017.
  • Rapid, Vehicle-Based Identification of Location and Magnitude of Urban Natural Gas Pipeline LeaksJoe Charles von Fischer, Daniel Stuart Cooley, Sam Chamberlain, Adam Joseph Gaylord, Claire J. Griebenow, Steven P. Hamburg, Jessica Salo, Russ Stanley Schumacher, David Theobald, Jay M. Ham ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY, 7, 2017.
  • Rapid, Vehicle-Based Identification of Location and Magnitude of Urban Natural Gas Pipeline LeaksJoe Charles von Fischer, Daniel Stuart Cooley, Sam Chamberlain, Adam Gaylord, Claire J. Griebenow, Steven P. Hamburg, Jessica Salo, Russ Stanley Schumacher, David Theobald, Jay M. Ham ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY, 7, 2017.
  • Soil Methane Uptake Increases under Continuous Throughfall Reduction in a Temperate Evergreen, Broadleaved Eucalypt ForestBenedikt Fest, Nina Hinko-Najera, Joe Charles von Fischer, Stephen J. Livesley, Stefan K. Arndt ECOSYSTEMS, 2, 2017.
  • Co-variation in methanotroph community composition and activity in three temperate grassland soilsCraig R. Judd, Akihiro Koyama, Mark Simmons, Paul Brewer, Joe Charles von Fischer SOIL BIOLOGY & BIOCHEMISTRY, 2016.
  • Soil methanotroph abundance and community composition are not influenced by substrate availability in laboratory incubationsSaadatullah Malghani, Andreas Reim, Joe Charles von Fischer, Ralf Conrad, Karl Kuebler, Susan E. Trumbore SOIL BIOLOGY & BIOCHEMISTRY, 2016.
  • Temperature Sensitivity as a Microbial Trait Using Parameters from Macromolecular Rate TheoryCharlotte Jean Alster, Peter Baas, Matthew Wallenstein, Nels G. Johnson, Joe Charles von Fischer FRONTIERS IN MICROBIOLOGY, 2016.
  • Temperature sensitivity of soil microbial communities: An application of macromolecular rate theory to microbial respirationCharlotte Jean Alster, Akihiro Koyama, Nels G. Johnson, Matthew Wallenstein, Joe Charles von Fischer JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-BIOGEOSCIENCES, 6, 2016.
  • Rapid, vehicle-based identification of location and magnitude of urban natural gas pipeline leaksJoe Charles von Fischer, Daniel Stuart Cooley, Samuel Dyer Chamberlain, Adam Joseph Gaylord, Russ Stanley Schumacher, , Jay M. Ham Environmental Science and Technology.
  • Autotrophic fixation of geogenic CO2 by microorganisms contributes to soil organic matter formation and alters isotope signatures in a wetland mofetteM. E. Nowak, F. Beulig, Joe Charles von Fischer, J. Muhr, K. Kuesel, S. E. Trumbore BIOGEOSCIENCES, 23, 2015.
  • Contrasting above- and belowground sensitivity of three Great Plains grasslands to altered rainfall regimesKevin Rory Wilcox, Joe Charles von Fischer, Jennifer M. Muscha, Mark K. Petersen, Alan Keith Knapp GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY, 1, 2015.
  • Multigas Leakage Correction in Static Environmental Chambers Using Sulfur Hexafluoride and Raman SpectroscopyTobias Jochum, Joe Charles von Fischer, Susan Trumbore, Juergen Popp, Torsten Frosch ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY, 21, 2015.
  • Repeated fuel reduction burns have little long-term impact on soil greenhouse gas exchange in a dry sclerophyll eucalypt forestBenedikt J. Fest, Stephen J. Livesley, Joe Charles von Fischer, Stefan K. Arndt AGRICULTURAL AND FOREST METEOROLOGY, 2015.
  • Prescribed fire, soil inorganic nitrogen dynamics, and plant responses in a semiarid grasslandDavid J. Augustine, Paul Brewer, Dana M. Blumenthal, Justin D. Derner, Joe Charles von Fischer JOURNAL OF ARID ENVIRONMENTS, 2014.
  • Vegetation height and other controls of spatial variability in methane emissions from the Arctic coastal tundra at Barrow, AlaskaJoe Charles von Fischer, Robert C. Rhew, Gregory M. Ames, Bailey Kathryn Fosdick, Paul E. von Fischer Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, G4, 2010.